In our monthly “Interior Designer Crush” series, we talk to an interior designer we are crushing on and ask them 10 questions to which we’re dying to have answers. Today, we visit with Marjorie Johnston of Marjorie Johnston & Co. Interiors and Design and her boutique storefront, JoJo Home, in Birmingham’s Mountain Brook Village. She savors the world around her with a curious, youthful enthusiasm and incorporates flashes from her internal catalog of beauty into her clients’ living spaces, as well as their parties, in ways that complement their needs and personalities. We asked Marjorie to describe her aesthetic, let us in on some tricks of the trade and give us a glimpse of some of her favorite projects. We hope you enjoy!

Marjorie Johnston, lead designer of Marjorie Johnston & Co. Interiors and Design and owner of Jojo Home boutique in Mountain Brook Village

Marjorie Johnston, lead designer of Marjorie Johnston & Co. Interiors and Design and owner of JoJo Home boutique in Birmingham’s Mountain Brook Village

What is your design aesthetic and how do you translate that to a client’s home?

The first words that come to mind in describing my design aesthetic would be simple, pretty, classic, comfortable and personal. The ultimate goal for every client is for their home to reflect their own personal style, and my job is to help bring that out and, often times, to help to define it. I try to observe how each client lives in their home, spends their free time and what their priorities for their homes might be. And with that information, we set about creating beautiful spaces for them to enjoy.

Where are your favorite spots to find next-level decor for a client’s home?

Birmingham is full of fabulous finds and wares to outfit the home. Shops such as Henhouse Antiques, Tricia’s Treasures and Circa are great resources for antiques and quality furnishings. I have long-standing friendships with the shop owners and that is part of the fun of shopping there. Another dear pal, Alice Schleusner — a true expert in the oriental rug business — has mentored along some strong talent here in Birmingham. I look forward with anticipation to the return of A’mano, as it always had unique art and accessories. Our own inventory at JoJo Home is my version of a curated collection, so it’s fun to include some of my personal finds here. Then there are the vast online resources, which present both an opportunity and a challenge in my business. For my “fluffing” service — when a homeowner needs help getting ready for an event or party — my go-to sources are Leaf & Petal, Table Matters, Whole Foods and Anthropologie.

"We loved using a Mary McDonald fabric in the form of panels at the back of the room to provide warmth and interest, as well as a functional surface for pinning things up," says Marjorie of the small office that her team designed for the 2015 Birmingham Home & Garden Inspiration Home.

“We loved using a Mary McDonald fabric in the form of panels at the back of the room to provide warmth and interest, as well as a functional surface for pinning things up,” says Marjorie of the small office that her team designed for the 2015 Birmingham Home & Garden Inspiration Home. Image: Jean Allsopp

"An interesting combination of merlot-colored cabinetry and the dark trim of the windows and hand-waxed oak walls set the tone for this sophisticated cabin in the woods," says Marjorie of this striking kitchen which shares an open space with adjoining living area. Image: Jean Allsopp

“An interesting combination of merlot-colored cabinetry and the dark trim of the windows and hand-waxed oak walls set the tone for this sophisticated cabin in the woods,” says Marjorie of this striking kitchen, which shares an open space with an adjoining living area. Image: Jean Allsopp

The great room's vast windows allow light to spill into this warm space. Image: Jean Allsopp

The great room’s vast windows allow light to spill into this warm space. Image: Jean Allsopp

There's a subtle pop of brightness in the colorful rug and the blue-and-white drapery, lanterns and unfinished bedside tables evoke the surroundings of this cabin in the woods, inviting guests to make themselves at home in this peaceful refuge. Image: Jean Allsopp

There’s a subtle pop of brightness in the colorful rug, and the blue-and-white drapery, lanterns and unfinished bedside tables evoke the surroundings of this cabin in the woods — inviting guests to make themselves at home in the peaceful refuge. Image: Jean Allsopp

Are there any trends you’re loving at the moment and, alternately, any timeless aspects of design that you cling to?

Generally speaking, I do not consider my work to be particularly trendy but it is nice to see color making a comeback. As a designer, it opens up an entire world when you get to introduce rich, deep colors in texture and pattern against neutral “bones.” As far as what I cling to from timeless design, beautiful drapery always seems to complete a room, in my opinion. Not with heavy valences or elaborate trimmings necessarily but yards of fabric framing a window is a personal favorite look. It’s also nice to see that pretty pieces of old furniture have not been completely replaced with new, lacquered things! Sometimes there is no substitute for the patina of antique wood.

What brings you the most professional joy?

In two words: happy clients!

How does Birmingham’s design scene differ from the rest of the country?

Southerners love their homes. In Birmingham, specifically, interiors are of particular significance and are, therefore, supported by great local talent, craftsmen and shops. There is a simple sophistication to the aesthetic in town and it’s fun to see that interpreted in projects such as the 2016 Alabama Symphony Orchestra Decorator’s ShowHouse in which I just participated.

Original ladder-back chairs, original 1930s wicker chairs and a contemporary zinc and iron table displaying azaleas from the garden give this Highlands, NC, home undeniable rustic charm.

Original ladder-back chairs, original 1930s wicker chairs and a contemporary zinc and iron table displaying azaleas from the garden give this mountain cottage undeniable rustic charm.

"In Cashiers, NC this lovely, simple dining room has the look of the old, but the elements are actually new," says Marjorie of this newly completed home in Cashiers, NC. "It's always a nice touch to go out into the yard and collect what's blooming and put it in a vessel for the dining room table."

“In Cashiers, North Carolina, this lovely, simple dining room has the look of the old but the elements are actually new,” says Marjorie of this newly completed home. “It’s always a nice touch to go out into the yard and collect what’s blooming and put it in a vessel for the dining room table.”

Sunlight streams into a guest room in a 1920s Highlands, NC, cottage, where vintage quilts and a modern rug each add a geometric edge to a soft, sweet space.

Sunlight streams into a guest room in a 1920s home in Highlands, North Carolina. Original pine paneling provides a woodsy backdrop for this mix of old and new, where a modern, ceramic lamp mingles with a needlepoint squirrel pillow from yesteryear, providing the signature charm in this comfortable gathering place for family and friends.

Where do you get your inspiration?

For me, it’s simply a matter of opening my eyes! Images in print, Instagram, travels, Pinterest, gardens, nature, clothing, film, food and architecture all feed the imagination and create an internal catalog of style to draw from. Sometimes, I will find myself recalling a detail from years ago that might pop up as the inspiration for a current project. I am inspired by the past, present and future, which is one exciting reason to keep working!

Who have been your industry mentors and role models and why?

My most current industry crush is the work of Jeffrey Bilhuber. It is quirky yet classic, bold with color yet mellow with comfort. Billy Baldwin and Sister Parish wrote the book on interior design over 50 years ago. Then there are cultural icons like Ralph Lauren, Hermes and Calvin Klein who have creatively blended fashion with interiors.

Share one designer secret with us regular folk.

Every room needs four lamps, something black and something tacky.

In the 2016 Alabama Symphony Orchestra Decorator’s ShowHouse, Marjorie took inspiration from the vintage Gracie wallpaper. Her team put their soiree skills to work, decorating the table for a garden party with chinoiserie, macaroons and gorgeous tableware for an eclectic mix of whimsical and stately.

In the 2016 Alabama Symphony Orchestra Decorator’s ShowHouse, Marjorie took inspiration from the vintage Gracie wallpaper. Her team put their soiree skills to work, decorating the table for a garden party with chinoiserie, macaroons and gorgeous tableware for an eclectic mix of whimsical and stately.

A dry bar is filled with colorful beverage choices, namely bottles of pink that bring out the pink of the dress worn by the original homeowner in the painting above. Image: Jean Allsopp

A dry bar is filled with colorful beverage choices, namely bottles of pink that bring out the pink of the dress worn by the original homeowner in the painting above. Image: Jean Allsopp

A black lacquered Asian buffet is flanked by vintage Prince of Wales chairs. The decorative elements are a playful nod to the garden party which is staged on the grand dining room table. Image: Jean Allsopp

A black lacquered Asian buffet is flanked by vintage Prince of Wales chairs. The decorative elements are a playful nod to the garden party, which is staged on the grand dining room table. Image: Jean Allsopp

What are your predictions for interior design in the next 10 to 15 years?

The crystal ball is not my strong suit but after visiting the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club Decorator Show House in New York in May, I picked up on an interesting trend in the use of technology. And I’m not just talking wireless speakers! Victoria Hagan, one of my favorites, used LED fairy lighting sewn into the drapery!

If you could squeeze your design philosophy into five words, what would they be?

“Simple Style for Good Living.” That’s on the window of my design studio and shop! Stop by JoJo Home to check us out!

Thank you, Marjorie, for sharing your talents and insights. To view more of her fabulous work or to contact her, visit Marjorie Johnston & Co. Interiors and Design.

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